By Terrance Turner
Tonight — after nearly six years of silence — Adele returned, singing at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and then sitting down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey. It was her first televised interview in six years. There was a lot to discuss: work, motherhood, weight loss, alcoholism. is year.) is famously private, but tonight she opened up, answering questions about dating, death, and divorce.
Her new album 30 directly addresses her divorce from charity executive Simon Konecki. (Adele and Konecki split in 2019, after less than two years of marriage. They share a nine-year old son, Angelo.) Oprah asked if there was a particular moment that she knew she had to leave. Adele answered yes. “I do remember one of my friends, we were all were answering these questions in this very bougie magazine. And it was — it was something like, ‘What’s something that no one would ever know about you?’ And I just — I just said it in front of three of my friends. I was like, ‘I’m really not happy. I’m not living. I’m just plodding along.’”
Her friends had no clue about Adele’s marital difficulties and were shocked. “But it was when I made it known to my own friends, who thought I was really happy, that actually I’m really unhappy — and they all gasped,” she remembered. “I felt like it was from there that I was like, ‘What am I doing? What am I doing it for?’”
She referenced one of her lyrics from her song “Love In The Dark”: “I want to live and not just survive.”
As she prepared to leave her marriage, Adele left something else behind: alcohol. She stopped drinking during the divorce process. Oprah noted that Adele had talked in the past about being “fascinated” by alcohol. “Yeah, very much as it took my dad from me,” Adele responded. (Her father Mark Evans was absent from much of her life; the two were estranged for years. But they reconciled before he died of cancer in May 2021.) ”Once I realized I had to do a lot to work on myself, I stopped drinking and started working out a lot.” Oprah asked if there was a wound that she was trying to heal. There was.
“My dad’s absolute lack of presence and effort with me,” Adele answered. “As I got older, I definitely understood that it was the alcohol, it wasn’t a choice he was making himself…During the last two-to-three years of my life, my dad got really sick. That happened just after having left my marriage when I made the conscious decision to get to know myself and figure some things out. April, when he died, we had our peace together. I felt that huge gaping hole filled. We forgave each other.”
While she made peace with her father, Adele also worked to explain things to her son. The new album’s lead single “Easy on Me” was written for Angelo, to help him understand the divorce. He’d ask questions like “Why don’t you love Daddy any more?” Adele explained: “‘I do love him. I’m not in love with him.’ But that doesn’t make any sense to a six-year-old.” She wrote the song to express to Angelo things she couldn’t say in conversation, she said. Adele admitted that she still feels discomfort with the idea of “choosing to dismantle my child’s life for my own.” She also death
Still, Adele remains on good terms with Konecki, who even lives across the street from her. She told Oprah: ““I think Simon probably saved my life, to be honest with you.” Adele speculated that she might’ve gone down a self-destructive path if not for him, saying that Simon and Angelo brought a sense of stability to her life. She called Konecki “the most stable person I’ve ever known,” adding: “I respect him more than anyone.”
“Even now, I trust him with my life.”
But Adele still dealt with guilt and embarrassment from the divorce. “I’m just embarrassed that I didn’t make my marriage work,” she admitted. That angst manifested itself physically: “I had the most terrifying anxiety attacks after I left my marriage. They paralyzed me completely and made me so confused because I wouldn’t be able to have any control over my body, but I was aware of that happening because it was kind of still very much there, while my whole body was just like, on another planet it felt like,” she told Oprah.
In order to deal with her anxiety, Adele started working out. She noticed that she wasn’t as anxious when she was with her trainer. She increased her workouts to every day, saying that the practice gave her structure. The daily workouts included both cardio and weights (she says she can now deadlift 160 lbs.). The result was her losing a hundred pounds within two years.
But it was never about the weight, Adele said. It was her “me time”, a way to build up her body and mind. “I thought, If I can make my body physically strong, and I can feel that and see that, then maybe one day I can make my emotions and my mind physically strong,” she told Vogue weeks ago.
The reaction to the weight loss was widespread and mixed. But Adele seemed unbothered by all of it. “I [wasn’t] shocked or even phased by it — my body has been objectified my entire career. Am I too big or am I too small, am I hot or not or whatever. I never looked up to anyone because of their body,” she said. “I never admired anyone because they had the same hair color as me or the same style as me. I was body positive then and I’m body positive now. But it’s not my job to validate people feel about their bodies — I feel bad that it’s made people feel horrible about themselves but it’s not my job. I’m trying to sort meself out,” she laughed.
One thing making Adele laugh these days is her new boyfriend — high-powered agent Rich Paul. Adele told Oprah: “He’s hilarious… and very smart. You know, he’s very, very smart. It’s quite incredible watching him do what he does. And just he easiness of it. It’s just very smooth.”